Happy Moral Monday, everybody. Y'all ready to get arrested in our state's fine capital for exercising your speech freedoms?
If your gripe is with the House, don't bother showing up. WRAL in Raleigh reported last week that house have stopped holding full floor sessions on Monday afternoons while protests are in full swing.
Last week, 11 protestors were arrested for staging a sit-in on the capitol building floor. Building police were called on NC WARN for passing out "coal ash" (really just chocolate) cupcakes, following a bizarre recent trend in North Carolina of exchanging baked goods with your political foes.
The major legislative move last week was Gov. Pat McCrory signing our clean water away in order to frack up the whole state for less than six years worth of natural gas.
The environmental assault continued as SB 734, which removes regulatory protections for isolated wetlands, passed the Senate.
Not content on merely destroying environmental standards for North Carolinians, lawmakers also took an axe to educational standards, passing a bill to eliminate Common Core... eventually. Not right away, because they wouldn't want to be forced to return the $400 million in federal grants North Carolina received to implement the standards.
Unemployment was chopped even more last Thursday when the House approved a package of changes to their 2013 unemployment overhaul. The maximum number of weeks one can receive benefits will likely be 14 starting in July, one of the shortest benefit periods in the nation. The average weekly benefit amount fell to $227 from $301 after the 2013 overhaul. Claimants will now have to prove they applied for at least five jobs each week, and they must appear in person at an unemployment office, with a photo ID, after receiving their first benefit check.
The big winner last week was religion in schools. The House passed a bill that the Senate unanimously approved last year that allows students to organize religious groups on campus, pass out religious literature to fellow students and cite religious beliefs in their school work. Also, teachers may participate in religious activities on campus that are led by students.
This week, we'll likely see a long-awaited vote on the future of film incentives. They may now take the form of grants from the state, instead of tax breaks, which would be capped at $5 million instead of the $20 million set to expire soon. The proposal was written into a bill that would turn business recruitment for North Carolina over to a nonprofit that will keep its activity private.